Postseason awards were handed out to a variety of athletes across the area over the past week following a vote by the seven coaches within the Mideastern Conference.
In high school football, senior quarterback Burke Estes was named Offensive Player of the Year after guiding the New Hanover Wildcats to a 12-3 mark and its first appearance in the 4A East Regional since 2009.
“It’s definitely a well-deserved honor for Burke,” said New Hanover Coach Earl Smith, who was also named Mideastern Conference Coach of the Year after returning to the sidelines following his initial stop in the Port City during the 2001 season. “It’s pretty impressive. His leadership skills were so important to us.”
Hoggard’s William Kandare received Defensive Player of the Year honors after the outside linebacker posted a strong senior campaign with a team-high 87 tackles and 15 tackles for loss. The Vikings defense allowed 19.3 points per game and finished 5-1 in league play.
While Estes would have liked his final season in Black and Orange to have ended on a better note after leaving last week’s regional contest with an injured throwing hand, the play-caller had a year to remember with over 3,000 yards passing.
The gun slinger set a single game school record with 407 passing yards in a 34-0 win over Ashley during the regular season. He completed nearly 67 percent of his throws in 15 games, with 26 touchdown passes to just six interceptions. The Wildcats averaged 223 yards in the air per game and eight different receivers had touchdown receptions throughout the year.
“With Burke directing traffic, getting receivers lined up, communicating with our offensive line to adjust blocking schemes, he was like a coach on the field,” Smith added. “My tip of the hat to Coach Raynor and Coach Sampson for doing a great job with the offense all season. You can’t say enough about the job of our offensive line. We had two first-team all-conference selections and three interior guys made all-conference. The thing about Burke is he wouldn’t zero in on a specific guy. He spread the ball out and made it hard on the opposing defenses.”
Kandare made 55 solo tackles, averaging 6.7 tackles per game, with eight sacks, one fumble recovery and one blocked punt. He had a season-high 10 tackles in Hoggard’s state playoff game against Durham-Hillside.
“William is a true testament to what four years of working hard and being coachable can do for a high school athlete,” said Hoggard Coach Craig Underwood, who just wrapped up his first season as head coach of the Vikings. “With the graduation of three-year starter Julius Reynolds, Will had some big shoes to fill in the middle and did a great job. I was most impressed with his ability to read his keys and stuff the run. He was always around the ball, which I think is the mark of a great linebacker.”
The Mideastern Conference had a handful of playmakers on both sides of the ball receiving First-Team tributes.
Junior running back Rashod Wallace nearly reached the 1,000-yard plateau for the Vikings, with 984 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. He ran for over 100 yards four times this season, while splitting carries with classmate Tony Allen.
Senior Tre Age proved to be the go-to back in the high-powered New Hanover offense with over 1,200 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns. Age had over 110 carries this season, with nearly 40 catches.
Garrett Walston, Lamont Howard and Wiz Vaughn also received First-Team accolades to round out the skill position players. Walston, a University of North Carolina commit and Shrine Bowl selectee, was a force at the tight end position. He had nine touchdown catches and nearly 1,000 yards receiving.
Howard and Vaughn complemented the Wildcats attack. Howard wrapped his junior season at wide out with over 800 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, while Vaughn emerged on the scene as a sophomore. He had over 700 all-purpose yards and nine total touchdowns.
Topsail’s Joe Sculthorpe was a First-Team selectee on the offensive line. He’s headed to N.C. State next season to continue his football career and was also selected to play in this year’s Shrine Bowl. He joins teammate Codie Howell on the All-Conference list as the Pirates averaged 211 rushing yards per game.
Russell Corbett rounded out a strong senior season for a much improved Ashley football team with a postseason award on the defensive line alongside Omar Jones (Hoggard), McKenzie Frazier (Hoggard) and Jomaious Williams (New Hanover). All four played a huge role in the run stuffing game for their respective teams.
At the linebacker position, sophomore Nas Brown came into his own late in the season for New Hanover. He had more than 120 total tackles, with one fumble recovery for a touchdown and 2.5 sacks.
Ronnie Beatty (New Hanover), Brandon Ray (Hoggard) and Tariq Thomas (West Brunswick) were named First-Team All-Conference in the secondary. Beatty closed his high school career with seven interceptions.
Hoggard’s Caleb Kuhne was also named First-Team place kicker even though he missed his final few games because of a season-ending injury. He finished 24 of 24 on point-after attempts and 8 of 13 on field goals. His season long was a 47-yard kick.
Offensive Player of the Year: Burke Estes, New Hanover
Defensive Player of the Year: William Kandare, Hoggard
Coach of the Year: Earl Smith, New Hanover
Team Sportsmanship Award: Ashley
- QB– Josh Jones, Hoggard
- RB– Rashod Wallace, Hoggard
- RB– Tre Age, New Hanover
- WR– Lamont Howard, New Hanover
- WR– Wizdom Vaughn, New Hanover
- TE– Garrett Walston, New Hanover
- OL– Troy Bowman, Laney
- OL– Joe Sculthorpe, Topsail
- OL– Tyrek Speller, New Hanover
- OL– Tyler Hall, New Hanover
- OL– Codie Howell, Topsail
- DL– Russell Corbett, Ashley
- DL– Omar Jones, Hoggard
- DL– McKenzie Frazier, Hoggard
- DL– Jomaious Williams, New Hanover
- LB– Caymen Czesak, Laney
- LB– Naseion Brown, New Hanover
- LB– Danny McDonald, Topsail
- DB– Elijuwan Boone, Laney
- DB– Ronnie Beatty, New Hanover
- DB– Brandon Ray, Hoggard
- DB– Tariq Thomas, West Brunswick
- P– Harrison Hardy, New Hanover
- PK– Caleb Kuhne, Hoggard
- SP– Grant McKoy, Topsail
- SP– Josh Carter, South Brunswick